The weather was gorgeous on Sunday. Blue skies, warm weather, the whole nine yards. JP and I needed to go to the mall for a few quick errands, and because it was warm and we are still trying to do our part to live a more green and simple life, we decided to take public transportation, rather than burning fossil fuels of our own to get there.

There is a Marta station not far from our house and another in the mall parking lot, so this seemed like a great idea at the time. And it was…on the way there. The train came quickly, it wasn’t very crowded, and we got to the mall quicker than if we’d battled traffic up I-400. And no fighting over a parking space! Hurrah!

Our errands were completed in no time, and before we knew it, we were back on our way to the Marta station. I was explaining the concept of Super Delegates and their role in the presidential nominations as we approached the turnstiles. The station was practically deserted. One loan couple was trying to decipher the ticket machine with the help of the station attendant. Like synchronized swimmers, we walked side-by-side through the turnstiles, tapping our passes and continuing without a break in the conversation. We were ten yards or so from the turnstiles, when we heard the station attendant yelling. We paused and looked over our shoulders, stunned to discover he was yelling at us.

Immediately, he began accusing me of following JP through the turnstile without paying my fare. Despite his tone, I was sure this confusion would be cleared up momentarily, so I held my pass aloft and assured him that we had walked through neighboring gates. Instead of apologizing, he became even more angry and insisted that I had followed her through without paying. He demanded I come back through and pay. I took a deep breath, and walked over to the attendant and handed him my pass. Because the passes are electronic, they will not allow a passenger to enter a station until they have exited. This prevents multiple people from sharing a single pass for the same trip. I promised him that I had used my pass to enter the station and encouraged him to scan it again. He did, and received an error message — the kind you receive because you have already used it to enter the station.

Again, I expected an apology and was sorely disappointed. He handed the pass back and said it proved nothing. He demanded I exit the station and buy a new pass. At this point, JP and I were both getting angry. His back had been turned while we entered the station, and he was engrossed in helping the couple buy their passes. There was no way he could have seen us enter. Furthermore, my pass was clearly engaged in the system, verifying our story. Still, he not only refused to apologized, but became more and more irrate. He accused me repeatedly of attempting to jump the fare, refused to listen to logic and eventually called the police.

You only wish I was kidding.

So, like criminals, we sat there for a full fifteen minutes waiting for the police to arrive while the station attendant wandered around helping other passengers and our train left without us. When the officer finally arrived, we explained the situation and I asked to see the security footage, which would obviously validate our story. He spoke to the attendant and moments later waved us through. I’m not sure what he said to the attendant, but it was clear he believed our story or at least didn’t want to waste his time looking at the security footage. Regardless, the attendant still refused to acknowledge that he was mistaken or offer any sort of apology for his public false accusations or for our delay.

I won’t say this ruined our day. But it certainly did make me think twice about taking the train next time we need to go the mall. Traffic on 400 may be annoying, but at least I don’t have to worry about being detained and falsely accused of a crime.

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